"Fire is Catching. And if We Burn, You Will Burn With Us."
“Mockingjay Part 1” is unfortunately the weakest of the films so far, and will probably keep that title once the second part comes out. Splitting up this final installment into two films, while once again a great money-making scheme, doesn’t make much sense cinematically. The film suffers from a lot of the same problems that “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” suffered from, specifically pacing and the lack of any real action. The first half of “Mockingjay” is all setup for the big climactic finish, and Collins makes sure not to blow her wad until the final showdown is well underway. That means the first half of the book is rehashing information, planning a few steps ahead, various instances of plotting on both sides of the war, and some warping of the love triangle that’s been set up (which thankfully, while still present in the film, is framed to serve the larger story). All this means that, for a lot of people who are only watching the films, nothing is happening. It all feels like padding, each event a meaningless blip in the larger scope of the plot. Characters like Effie and Gale are sidelined because they don’t have much to do. It all feels unfinished. I don’t blame anyone who feels this way.
This does nothing to diminish my excitement for this series. The film once again finds that perfect balance between realism and fantasy that draws people to the seats. As I mentioned before, these films are about revolution, and while American cinema likes to make a lot of movies about war, big budget studios tend to shy away from films about uprisings, particularly when it comes from society’s youth. As some have pointed out, the influence of the films reaches far beyond our borders. The creators have captured flame in a bottle, and are pulling few punches when showing people what fire can do.
Fire is catching.